Meet the women of Las Truchas, a group of wild swimmers in Lima, Peru

For Sotelo and many other Limeños, the idea of ​​swimming on the Pacific coast of Lima was somewhat uncharted. A sprawling city of around 10 million people, Peru’s coastal capital is wedged between the peaks of the Andes and the stormy waters of the Pacific. Despite its natural beauty, it is often referred to by its nickname, Lima the Horrible, due to its pollution, congested streets and dark winters. For seven months of the year, Lima is shrouded in ocean mist and cloud cover that blocks out the sun. And because the city lies in the path of the Humboldt Current, which flows north from Antarctica along the west coast of South America, the water is extremely cold all year round.

So, while Sotelo was born in Lima, she only discovered its beaches when she returned to the city in her late twenties after living abroad.

“The stereotype is that the beaches are dirty and not very beautiful,” she says. “They’re thin, with very little sand, and there are usually freeways right next to them.”

However, as Las Truchas grew and Sotelo became more involved, the young photographer began to feel the pull of the ocean. Before long, she was meeting the group at 10 a.m. several times a week to swim and take aerial photos using her drone. Some days they swam north to the Faro La Marina lighthouse, other days they went all the way to the island of El Paneton. Groups of dolphins and sea lions passed there regularly. No matter the course or physical abilities of the swimmers, the women always swam together, only going at the speed of the slowest person in the group.

For Sotelo, it wasn’t just the cool photos she received, or the rush of cold-water swimming that drew her to the ocean, it was the company of a diverse and supportive community of women. which covered age groups, social classes and political opinions.

The group included Aida Davis, 73, one of Peru’s most decorated swimmers. She used to apply lipstick before swimming and placed first in the freestyle at the Fina World Masters Championships at the age of 60. Then there was Maggi Lañas, a 56-year-old journalism professor who discovered a passion for swimming after undergoing ovarian surgery in 2006.

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